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Three historical mountain passes in Durangaldea by bike

Our region is big on cycling! We’ll soon have an amazing network of bidegorris or bike lanes for local and visiting cyclists, connecting Berriz and Elorrio to Amorebieta through Atxondo and Durango.

Some famous cyclists were born here or have lived here, among them Andrés Gandarias, Javier Elorriaga, Marino Lejarreta, Julián Gorospe, Mikel Zarrabeitia, David Etxebarria, Unai Etxebarria and Beñat Intxausti. And of course, we have to give a mention to the Cafés Baqué team.

Durangaldea is an important region for women’s cycling too. Agurtzane Elorriaga grew up here, and the area has supported important events like the Emakumeen Bira women’s cycling race and grassroots initiatives such as the Bizkaia-Panda team.

Many amateurs take their bikes out on a weekly basis over the length and breadth of Durangaldea, including through mountain passes that have been made famous by official races.

For all those cycle enthusiasts planning a trip to Durangaldea, here’s our selection of three mountain passes to enjoy.

Urkiola (754 m)

With a 9% average gradient stretching over 6 km starting from Mañaria, Urkiola is undoubtedly the best-known and most epic pass in Durangaldea and it’s no wonder that it’s been a decisive stage in many professional races. Every day there’s someone out there doubled over their handlebars on the climb or relishing the curves on the way down.

Visit the sanctuary at the top and then do a circular route through the Urkiola Natural Park to Otxandio. Refill in the large plaza and then descend through Dima to complete the day by returning through Amorebieta to Durango.

If you’re a competitive cylist and you want a photo to show your friends back home, you can’t visit Durangaldea without climbing Urkiola.

Muniketa (381 m)

The peak of Muniketa is on the road from Iurreta to Muxika – another feature in many official races. It’s a hugely popular pass with local cyclists, connecting Durangaldea with the coastal locations of Busturia and Lea Artibai. This mini alpine-style route starts in Iurreta. The climb of 3.7 km has an average gradient of 7% and 180-degree curves to navigate during the ascent, which starts after Orobio.

If you don’t want to cycle to the coast, descend to Ibarruri and turn right to climb through Ajuria, on the lower slopes of Oiz. Continue to the Urrutxu cross, then pick up the road to Iurreta again and head down Muniketa along the same road you climbed.

This loop is a great option for cyclists who want to pedal around 30km on quiet roads.

Elgeta (473 m)

Elgeta is the third most important pass in Durangaldea and has also been a decisive part of various races. Starting in Elorrio, the 4 km ascent has an average gradient of 7% up to the small and elegant town of Elgeta, on the border between Biscay and Gipuzkoa. Rest your body and soak up the pretty views from the plaza.

From there, descend down the same road you climbed or return to the roundabout you crossed before you reached Elgeta and pick up the road to Kanpazar (451 m) before returning to Elorrio.

What a fabulous opportunity to put your body through its paces while your mind rests!

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